Harboring a mistakenly inflated belief that we can easily meet challenges or win conflicts is actually good for us, new results from simulations suggest.
Published in the research journal Nature Sept. 14, the research indicates that overconfidence often brings rewards, as long as “spoils” of conflict are large compared with the costs of competing for them.
Overconfidence can bring success in sports, business or even war, the authors say. But they caution that this bold approach also risks wreaking ever-greater havoc. They cite the 2008 financial crash and the 2003 Iraq war as just two examples of when overconfidence backfired.
“The model shows that overconfidence can plausibly evolve in wide range of environments, as well as the situations in which it will fail. The question now is how to channel human overconfidence so we can exploit its benefits while avoiding occasional disasters,” said study co-author Dominic Johnson of the University of Edinburgh.
The researchers, from the University of Edinburgh and the University of California, San Diego, used a mathematical model to simulate the effects of overconfidence over generations. Their model pitted “overconfident” players against players with accurate perceptions of their own abilities, and others that were underconfident.
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